Deep River Savages title

AKA: Man From Deep River, Il Paese del Sasso, Au Pays de L'Exorcisme, Mondo Cannibal

Deep River Savages boxLong before Cannibal Holocaust, and w-a-a-a-a-a-y before Cannibal Ferox came Deep River Savages. The film that was solely responsible for starting the short lived cycle of sick cannibal pictures, that were churned out by exploitive Italian film makers during the 70's and early 80's.

The story concerns the misfortunes of a photographer named John Bradley (Ivan Rassimov), who's out on location photographing exotic parts of Indonesia. However, after inadvertently killing a guy in a bar brawl he decides to disappear for a while, and so hires a guide to take him into the jungle to do some wildlife photography instead.

Unfortunately they travel just a little too far into uncharted territory, and Bradley awakes one morning to find his guide murdered and himself surrounded by rather unfriendly natives. Captured and taken back to their village they then proceed to do some rather unsavoury things to him, including stringing him up and using him for target practice with their blow darts (ouch!!!).

Whilst all this is going on, one of the chief's daughters (Me Me Lai) falls in love with him and so he gets spared from any further unpleasantries. Then bizarrely, the natives initiate him into their tribe. In many ways the film is rather reminiscent of "A Man Called Horse", except for the excessive use of gore, violence and of course animal cruelty, which is present throughout.

One of the more memorable gory moments is where some of the villagers are captured by a rival cannibal tribe, who then proceed to start snacking on their extremities, before getting captured themselves by John and the native villagers, who return the favour by cutting out their tongues in lovingly gory detail!

Overall, this wouldn't be a bad film. Brutal, shocking, and gory, indeed all the elements you would expect from a good splatter movie. However, if you're viewing the uncut version, where this film falls down was the director's idea to include scene's of genuine animal violence for additional shock impact. These have been cut from the from the current UK release at the insistence of the BBFC, but in the original uncut version we get to see the top of a monkey's head being whacked off, a snake being split open, and a goat having its throat cut in extreme close up, which does nothing to enhance the film and only serves to disgust the viewer and have him reaching for the fast forward button, off switch, or vomit bag.

It therefore comes as no surprise to find that this first cannibal film was directed by Italian film maker Umberto Lenzi, who returned to disgust us all again with even more vile cannibal pics a few years later, most notably being the brutal Cannibal Ferox.

Overall Marks : 1/10 (I would give this a 5, if it wasn't for the scene's of animal killing)

Other Information.

  • Director Umberto Lenzi went on to make two other cannibal pics, namely "Eaten Alive" (aka Mangiati Vivi, Emerald Jungle) which also borrowed footage from this film, and the infamous and extremely brutal Cannibal Ferox (aka Woman from Deep River, Make them Die Slowly).

  • As mentioned in my review, this film kick-started a whole new sub-genre in the horror world, albeit a short lived one. Other Italian directors soon jumped on the bandwagon, releasing featuring cannibalism and tribal brutality, with each film trying to outgross the next. This trend continued until the early 80's when the cycle finally burned itself out with the release of Lenzi's "Cannibal Ferox"

  • Former TV presenter Me Me Lai may be familiar to fans of Peter Sellers comedies, for her role as the "Chinese Lady of Easy Virtue" in the comedy sequel "Return of the Pink Panther".

  • Ivan Rassimov was a regular actor in Italian "B"-movies, he also worked with Lenzi on 4 other films, including "Eaten Alive".

  • Me Me Lai and Ivan Rassimov starred together again in two other Cannibal films, the first being Ruggero Deodato's "Last Cannibal World" (aka "Cannibal", "Jungle Holocaust", "Ultimo Mondo Cannibal") and the other being Lenzi's "Eaten Alive".

  • The film was rejected by the BBFC for a cinema release in 1975 (under the title "Man from Deep River"). The film was later released uncut on UK video under it's alternate title "Deep River Savages" back in the early 80's. However, this got listed on the governments "Video Nasties" hitlist and although was never actually prosecuted as being obscene, it was still outlawed when the "Video Recordings Act" came into force in 1984. The film was eventually passed for a UK release in 2003, minus 3m45s of cuts which removed all the animal violence.

  • The film is currently available uncut on Dutch video and DVD, an uncut US DVD is also available.

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